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Sunday, 14 April 2013 22:08

Thrilling clash sees KCFC edge Maryhill

Written by  Paul Dempsey
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KCFC Ladeside Juniors
Maryhill Juniors
U14's P&JYFL
The Vale, Kilbirnie
Fixtures don't come much bigger than this. Maryhill dominated the first half of this season beating all and sundry as they powered their way to the top of the table. KCFC fell victim to them back in November losing 2-0 away from home. In recent weeks the teams met again in the Divisional Cup, this time at The Vale where the match ended honours even courtesy of a 1-1 draw. KCFC were looking to complete the set with a win, but knew it would be a tough prospect against one of the more fancied teams in the League.

With a full complement of players and subs to choose from this week, Ladeside could field what was arguably their strongest line-up. Back came Monaghan and Quinn in midfield with John Buckley filling in at left-back with licence to maraud down the flank. James Ferguson returned after a lengthy spell out and he joined Ryan Steele up front.

After just three minutes KCFC gave notice of intent to the visitors. A rash tackle on Marc Gillies on the edge of the Maryhill box gave Kevin Monaghan the chance with a direct free-kick. Unfortunately it flew just over the bar, but KCFC had shown they meant business.

On eleven minutes a Monaghan corner kick was met by the head of defender Daniel Kennedy, but once again it soared narrowly over the crossbar. Just two minutes later KCFC were on the attack again. Some terrific footwork by Ryan Steele on the Maryhill byline almost led to an opening goal, but some resolute defending led to the ball being cleared. The ball however was immediately back in KCFC's possession and a thirty yard effort from James Ferguson was just tipped over by the Maryhill keeper.

Five minutes later the game opened up with the first goal. Once again a Monaghan corner caused panic in the Maryhill box and a failed clearance fell to Marc Gillies 16 yards out and his low powerful strike left the Maryhill keeper stranded and put the Kilbirnie side into a deserved 1-0 lead.

The game began to rise in tempo following the opening goal. For all their possession and efforts in front of goal, KCFC were actually very subdued in the opening quarter. The goal raised their spirits and it raised the Maryhill efforts too. For the next ten minutes the game flowed from end to end. On twenty seven minutes a speculative Maryhill shot from just outside the Kilbirnie box passed through the massed defence and into the far corner of the net beyond keeper Cammy King. The goal lifted Maryhill and we now had a game on our hands.

Minutes later KCFC won another corner on the left. Monaghan stepped up once more, but instead of floating it in he opted for a short ball to Callum Quinn. Monaghan got the ball on the return and ran toward his own half before turning infield and around to face the Maryhill goal. From thirty yards out he let rip with a cannonball shot that squeezed under the Maryhill keeper to restore Kilbirnie's advantage. It was a great individual effort and ensured that KCFC went into the break with their noses in front.

Half Time: KCFC Ladeside Juniors 2-1 Maryhill Juniors

At the break the North Ayrshire side swapped their keepers. Off went Cammy King, who'd had some great stops during his time between the sticks, and on came Craig Fyfe. With a full subs bench to choose from KCFC decided to keep the outfield as it was. Even though they were ahead it was felt that it was too early to consider changing anything.

Four minutes into the second half and it was almost 3-1 for Kilbirnie. A terrific looping effort from distance from Ferguson again sailed narrowly over the bar. But the interval had given Maryhill the chance to regroup and they were clearly looking to at least get on level terms. Time and again their attacks were snuffed out with Dempsey and Kennedy at the centre of the Kilbirnie back-line standing firm. John Buckley, playing in an unfamiliar left-back role, played his part with some great challenges and led some great counter-attacks as he surged down the wing.

However, after 15 minutes of the second period it was Maryhill who were celebrating. Once again a speculative shot from the edge of the Kilbirnie box found it's way into the bottom left corner of their net, beyond Craig Fyfe, to take the scoreline to 2-2.

With Maryhill back on level terms Kilbirnie dug deep to regain the momentum. The visitors switched from 4-4-2 to a 3-5-2 to flood the midfield and attempt to stifle Gillies and Monaghan in the KCFC engine-room. The move gave strikers Steele and Ferguson a bit more room for manoeuvre up top for Ladeside, and with the blistering power of Paul McCafferty's right boot at the back, Route-One seemed the way to bypass the crowded midfield. Time and again the ball was lumped over the top and on occasion the striking duo for Kilbirnie were just unfortunate not to see their attempts finish up in the net.

With ten minutes remaining Kilbirnie made a change. Callum Quinn, a natural right-footer had been playing out on the left but had found it difficult to play on the unfamiliar side of the park. Jay Hood, another natural right-footer, hadn't had as good an impact on the right wing as expected, so the players swapped roles. Almost straight away Quinn latched on to a pass and ran the full-back to the bye-line before crossing in. On the opposite wing Hood looked dejected at being played out of position.

Time ebbed away and it seemed that the spoils would be shared on the full time whistle. With 90 seconds of normal time remaining a Maryhill attack was thwarted and the ball fell to Jay Hood just beyond his own six yard-box. He took the ball and played a neat 1-2 with Marc Gillies before heading toward the left wing.

What followed was simply mesmerising. Hood ran almost the full length of the park, taking on what seemed like the entire Maryhill team in the process. He turned, he shimmied, he feinted, he nutmegged and finally, at the Maryhill bye-line, he crossed. There to meet it was James Ferguson on the penalty spot, he knocked it down to Ryan Steele who, with three defenders closing in on him calmly slammed the ball through the legs of the Maryhill keeper to give KCFC a deserved 3-2 lead.

From the restart, KCFC won the ball back and it was a reinvigorated Callum Quinn on the right who found himself bearing down on the Maryhill goal. Unfortunately his effort went high and wide. Maryhill were determined to get back on level terms, but Kilbirnie were more determined to prevent that from happening. The referee somehow conjured up four minutes of added time, but it wasn't enough time for Maryhill to find that equaliser. The game ended with a terrific, well deserved victory for KCFC by 3-2.

This was a pulsating match played at a phenomenal pace. Both teams seemed wary of one another at the start, but the mutual respect ended when KCFC took the lead after sixteen minutes. Following Maryhill's equaliser it was clear to those in attendance that this would be a torrid affair and Kilbirnie would have to work hard to take anything from the fixture. Kilbirnie did not disappoint.

Despite being pegged back to level terms twice they kept going in search of another goal. This victory was hard fought, but remarkably it was achieved without any outfield substitutions being made; the KCFC coaching staff keeping faith with the defenders, midfielders and strikers who started the game and believing that they could achieve the victory. It was a bold gamble, but one that paid off.

Full time: KCFC Ladeside Juniors 3-2 Maryhill Juniors

KCFC Man of the Match went to winning goal scorer Ryan Steele.
Last modified on Thursday, 08 August 2013 00:29
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